Why you don’t want traditional radio to disappear.

I had a meeting with my professor yesterday and we were talking about a presentation that I have coming up. We were talking about radio and the points I wanted to get across, and she kept asking me how I’m going to make people care. What about my presentation is going to make people care about radio. That really got me thinking, why should people care about traditional radio? Let me tell you why.

  • Many radio stations are still live and local. The people talking to you on the airwaves are right there in your community, they know what’s going on, and they care. They support local businesses, organizations, and charities on air.
  • Most other places you can find music don’t have a personality aspect at all. If you’re listening to Pandora on your morning commute, I can guarantee it’s not going to make you crack up laughing to yourself like morning show personalities can on your local station. (This particular aspect is something I strive really hard for. I always want to make those sleepy commuters feel ridiculous for laughing by themselves. Laughter is great any time of the day though!)
  • Even if the station you typically tune into isn’t live or local (unfortunately a lot of radio is syndicated or recorded, a sad fact indeed. It happens because huge companies can afford to buy out small stations) it’s still FREE. It costs you nothing to tune into the radio. If that disappeared, all those free or trial services would have nothing to compete with and could jack up their prices. Think about it.
  • Whether you like it or not, you still find new music on radio. People like to complain that the same music gets played over and over on radio, but radio still makes the hits. They still debut songs and make them popular. You just think that the radio station is playing a certain song a lot because you heard it there first, and then started hearing it EVERYWHERE else after that, so it feels like every time you tune in you hear it.
  • From an advertising standpoint, traditional radio is one of the most targeted and effective mediums you can use. The variety of radio stations offers you a chance to pick and choose what demographics you want to hear your ad.

These are only a few points about why traditional radio matters, and will continue to matter, but they are points that I think are often looked over. Sometimes we take certain media for granted, yet if it ceased to exist, we would definitely notice its absence. The effects of it would be more widespread than you think!

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A poster of a benefit concert my station threw for Food For Lane County

Infographic survival guide

Amanda Burd #3 Infographic

These past few weeks in J452 we have been working on infographics and, if I’m being honest, it’s been less than fun. On the surface, making an infographic doesn’t sound too horrible: You put purposeful information onto a sheet in a visual way that easy for people to follow. But once you get into it, you run into many roadblocks. You have too much information, or not enough. The information you do have doesn’t fit together or tell a story. You can’t find visuals that represent the data. You can’t word the data in a concise way. You’re banging your head on the wall trying to think of how to put it all together. Ya know, problems like that.

But eventually, things will fall together and you will finish it. Once I finished mine it was a huge relief, and I want to help others get to that point when making an infographic, so here are a few of my favorite tips to help you skip all the roadblocks and get to the finish line.

  • Organize information on the infographic in a way that follows a person’s typical eye movement (top left corner is the first place people tend to look)
  • Additionally, make the first thing you want people to see the biggest font/image on the infographic
  • Have a color theme that works. It’ll be very overwhelming to your reader if it looks like a rainbow threw up on your graphic.
  • Make the info relatable. You are likely going to be trying to educate someone or convince someone of something with your infographic, but if they cant relate or connect with it in some way, they wont remember it.
  • Make it convincing. Have a call to action that leaves people persuaded by your message.

To compliment all those tips, you can check a bunch of really awesome infographics and get some inspiration. 

A Voice for Radio

radio-micI don’t think there are very many people out there who hear recordings of their voice and go “oh my gosh yes, that is beautiful!” For some reason, we just don’t like the sound of our own voice. This a big reason why a lot of people think they have to change their voice for radio. There is a misconception that radio personalities have to “put on” their voice, like it’s a hat or a pair of socks that they can put on or take off as they please. But in reality, there is no “radio voice”. This is a lesson I learned on my very first day on air, after I heard a recording of myself and I sounded like a robot cheerleader who had drank wayyyy too much coffee. I over-pronounced words, I sounded overly excited and peppy, plus I was yelling as if I was talking to someone hard of hearing. My bosses purposely recorded me so I could hear it back, and I never put that voice on again.

Radio personalities are going for authenticity. The more authentic and honest you are on air, the better people will connect with you. So, the best way to have a radio voice is to just be yourself. Although, smiling also doesn’t hurt (you can read my whole post about smiling more). Radio personalities might change their tone or infliction on words, but for the most part, what you’re hearing is the way they would sound off-air or in any normal setting. This is why I’ve had random people at my other jobs/school/the grocery store stare at me with a confused expression until it clicks that they recognize my voice and they go “Are you on KDUK??” and I blush and nod (I’ll never get used to that happening). I don’t particularly like my voice, but it’s distinctive. Something about the way I talk is distinguishable from other people. I don’t think anyone likes the sound of their own voice, but people will connect with the real you far better than they ever would with some overcaffinated robo-cheerleader, promise you that.

I’ll try anything at least once.

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A few weeks ago I started following a radio DJ from Indiana on Facebook. I found his page through a mutual radio friend we have. His page had over 13k likes. I immediately assumed he worked for some huge station, possibly the biggest in his state, but when I looked up his station I found out that it only had 6k likes. The only possible explanation for this is that this dude is crazy good at branding himself and getting people to connect with him. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know how he did it. So I sent him a message and a few minutes later he told me to call the studio he worked at so we could chat.

We talked for about an hour and he gave me some great advice. I could tell that he had insane charisma and is really funny, which I knew had to be part of why people loved him so much. He looked over my social media pages and gave me advice on what to change to increase my reach and my popularity. The number one thing he told me I needed to do was to start vlogging. I have never ever vlogged before in my life and the idea of videoing myself talking about random things seemed like something I would not be good at, be assured me that it was easy and it’d be fun. So tuesday night, during my late night show at KWVA, I made my first vlog.

I just went for it. Thats the approach I tend to take when I’m about to do something for the first time. You can’t syke yourself out or you won’t do it at all. So I made some random video, showing the studio, showing me to a talk break, and just generally doing random things. By the end of my show that night, that video had become the most “liked” post I’ve ever made on my radio page.

I started thinking about it and I realized that vlogging really isn’t that much different than being on radio. You just talk about things, show your personality, make it interesting, and try to get people to connect with you. The only difference is that with a vlog, they can also see you! Which is awesome because it just lets people connect with you on that much higher of a level. After that, I understood why the DJ I talked to was so jazzed on vlogging, and why he was exactly right about it working to broaden my reach.

I decided to start posting vlogs twice a week, once on Tuesdays during my show at KWVA, and once on Friday mornings while I’m on the morning show at KDUK. Consistency is key when vlogging, because you need to keep people interested. You should post frequently enough that people stay interested, but not so often that they get annoyed or overwhelmed with all the videos.

People like to see the quirky side of other people. We all have a desire to connect with other people and see that they are similar to us. I was really hesitant to try vlogging at first but now I am really stoked to keep making them because I realized they will help me showcase to people what I’m really passionate about and why. I have a passion for connecting with people, telling stories, making people laugh, and just being the goofball that I am.

If you want to follow me on Facebook and keep up with my vlogs, you can click this incredibly long link. 

Haters gon’ hate

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A few weeks back, a listener posted a lengthy wall post to the Facebook page of the morning radio show I work on. The message was anything but positive. To make her long story short, she said she had been a long time listener of our show and had been around for many talent changes and the only personality she has ever hated on the show was me. She went on to detail all the reasons she thought I was awful. Now, I can handle constructive criticism, but this woman was straight up insulting me. But I guess if she was trying to be helpful and not insulting then she would have just privately messaged us her opinions instead of posting it on our wall for everyone to see. But she didn’t.

So what is it with this obsession people have of publicly bashing other people on the internet? And more importantly, why do they think their opinion on other people matters? These are the thoughts that run through my mind every time I see posts like that woman’s, which is daily, because we are all bombarded with it. It seems like a lot of these hateful comments are about celebrities, but we have to remember they are humans too. Even Taylor Swift gets her feelings hurt when she reads overly mean comments about herself. Everyone has feelings and no one deserves to read those awful things about themselves, posted by people who, in all honest, do not even know them at all.

But it’s going to happen. It’s just a fact of life. Taylor Swift knew it when she started in music, I knew it when I started in radio. People are going to say mean things, for a variety of reasons, and you can’t do a damn thing about it. The only thing you can control is how you react to it.

When an interviewer asked famous sports reporter Pam Oliver how she deals with the hateful comments about her on the internet and she said “I don’t deal with it. It doesn’t impact my life in any way.” She also stated a quote by Elenor Roosevelt that said “No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your consent.” And both women are completely on the right track.

You will never be able to control what other people say about you and you will never get everyone to like you. If everyone does like you, then you don’t have much of a personality! The key is to being yourself and being happy with yourself. The only thing you can control is your reactions to the mean comments. If you let it get inside your head then it will tear you down. Or, you can choose to just not care. Brush it off and move on.

Or, your third option is to be like me and make a sarcastic comment back at your hater. That’s a pretty fun option.

What are YOU smiling about?

 

After one of the very first times I spoke on air, my boss JJ gave me a piece of advice that I will never forget: always smile while you’re on-air. She explained that when you are smiling, you sound happier, brighter, and more energetic. She was 100% right and ever since then I am always beaming my best smile on-air. Of course no one but her and Chino can see it, but our 70k+ listeners can HEAR it, and that’s what’s important. But I have applied this advice to the rest of my life, and I try to smile as often as possible. I learned that if you smile more, you really feel happier.

I think that this simple idea of smiling more can be applied to any job, but especially one where you are speaking to  people on a regular basis. Public relations is a field where you are always talking to people. To the public, to a board, in a meeting, in a press conference, to your boss, to your co-workers, to a client… don’t you want them to see you as a joyful person to be around? And if they see you as a happy, go-lucky person, don’t you think they will be more persuaded by your message? I know I am always far more captivated by someone who smiles so much they seem like they are just plain happy to be alive.

Don’t get me wrong here, though, I don’t think you should force it. I want you to look happy, not possessed. But getting in the habit of flashing the world genuine smiles is not that hard. All you have to do is remember all the reasons you have to smile.

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If none of those reasons have convinced you to smile more, how about this…

  • Smiling is a great form of face yoga. Yep, that’s right. Face yoga. Smiling will keep your skin firmer and younger looking.

Smiling is universal. It’s a language everyone speaks. So whether you’re speaking to a crowd, your boss, your friends, or to thousands of people over the airwaves, smile big and wide and spread the happiness.

“Blurred Lines is on AGAIN???”

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When people find out that I work at a top 40 radio station, the number one thing that immediately falls out of their mouth is “Why do you guys play the same songs over and over???” And I never quite know how to respond, so I end up saying something like, “Because we are a TOP 40 radio station…” The answer to their question is obvious to me, but I forget that not everyone understands the behind-the-scenes workings and reasonings in radio. They think working at a station is all fun. You just play music all day and talk about stuff between songs! Incorrect, my friends. Let me fill you in.

Radio is a business and everything in business is strategic. Music Directors and Programming Directors spend hours a day deciding what to play and when to play it. There is a strict structure of songs, commercials, legal IDs, and more. I’m not going to go into how much time producing ads, spots, breaks, mixes, etc takes, but just know that it’s a while. One thing that MDs and PDs pay very close attention to is play counts. That’s right, we are purposely playing Blurred Lines so many times that it drives you crazy and you end up singing it in your head everywhere you go. Sorry, not sorry.

What people fail to realize when they ask me that initial question is what people are tuning into KDUK hoping to find. I highly doubt people tune into any top 40 station hoping to find a song that they’ve never heard before in their life. They tune into that station because they know exactly what they are going to hear: the top 40 songs in America. They are going to know every word to every song. You want to hear that Miley Cyrus song that you know your friends would endlessly give you crap about for liking? Don’t you worry, it’ll be coming up this hour and you can sing it at the top of your lungs in your car, happily and shamelessly.

Now, I’m not saying this is the perfect model, or that another method wouldn’t get more listenership (in fact I have some ideas that are different from this that I think would, but more on that in later posts) but with Spotify, Pandora, and other streaming services making headway, radio is in a delicate spot. Not many stations are willing to take risks with programming and possibly drop in ratings. They stick to the setup they have and focus on providing unique and entertaining talent (which I will repeat over and over in these blogs is the biggest thing streaming services lack) to compete with stations airing similar programming.

So go ahead, turn the radio on and say that you are sooo sick of hearing this Miley song, but five bucks says that 20 seconds later you’re screaming “I CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BAAAALLLLLL.”

An Introduction…

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When I was growing up in small town Lebanon Oregon, there was only one radio station that I remember listening to: 104.7 KDUK. I remember listening to Val Steele and thinking that working in radio would be so cool, but I always thought that it was one of those careers that was too far-fetched to obtain. Fast forward about a decade… Val Steele is now my boss. And she is as cool as I always thought she would be. But something epic happened within that decade: I realized that I could be so cool too. I realized that no career or goal or dream is out of reach if you work hard enough and get in touch with the right people. So that’s what I did.

Now, I don’t want to make it seem like luck wasn’t a part of this equation too, because it definitely was. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and landed an internship at KDUK. From then on is when the real hard work started. I had zero radio experience. The first time I spoke on air, I totally choked. But we don’t need to recap that. After I got more comfortable, I fell in love with radio. I love using my quick wit on air, I love making people laugh, I love the fast paced environment. But I know what you’re thinking right now… “Radio is dying. Pandora, Spotify, those are the big players in music sources now!” You aren’t wrong. BUT (and this is a big but (I like big buts and I cannot lie)) there will ALWAYS be one thing that Pandora and Spotify can’t offer you. And that is live and local talent. It’s a connection to an actual person playing the music and talking to you on your morning commute. This is the biggest reason I love radio.

The posts made on this blog from here on out are going to focus how PR can be used in radio to regain listenership. PR at its core is relationship building between an organization and its publics through strategic communication. That’s what radio is all about! So it only makes sense that I delve into this issue deeper to help myself, and hopefully others, better understand how we can be part of radios comeback.