The morning radio show. It’s what defines our medium for many people. Think about the portrayals of radio in movies and TV; it’s almost always a morning show. Too often it’s not even a flattering portrayal, but the fact remains that it’s what sticks out about the medium. The morning show is generally the daypart where we put our best talent and have the preponderance of our non-duplicable content.
As the Internet brings new competition to the fray with radio and as consumers adopt or adapt to the new array of options it makes more sense than ever for stations to be showcasing their non-duplicable content. What highly-desirable programming can stations create or curate that the consumer cannot easily find via the internet or other media (often with a lower commercial load attached)? For many stations it’s been daily survival information – traffic, weather and news – that’s served as the foundation. For the great bulk of stations, however, the non-duplicable content is humor.
And when we review the priorities of morning radio listeners in our NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Studies, we see how information is king for the News/Talk faithful (though, even there, people they enjoy and having a laugh rank right behind information and discussions about what matters). For the greater bulk of morning radio listeners, however, it’s primarily about having a laugh, getting in a good mood and other slices that relate to humor or fun.
As information becomes more and more readily available, radio’s primacy as a source of survival information is diminishing – even among the News/Talk morning faithful. With more convenient options, radio no longer holds a majority as the primary traffic source for even News/Talk morning listeners. While even fewer News/Talk morning listeners rely on radio for weather and news, we’re clearly not recommending that stations omit these types of information from their clocks.
What we are recommending is that stations keep these factors in mind when budgeting time in their hours and positions in their clocks. As certain types of information become commoditized, it’s important that radio works to build unique takes on information. Sure, Google Maps will show you the slow spots on your commute, but radio’s very best traffic voices tell the stories behind the jams and commiserate with the listener.
It’s critical that radio gets more information about how to satisfy and delight its morning faithful. News/talk programmers need deeper insights on the specific slices of information desired. Moreover, news/talk stations need talented writers, producers and hosts to maximize unique delivery of information.
Obviously, music station morning shows need to make listeners laugh and feel good. We’ve heard how managers and programmers in Australia spend much of their time identifying, training and nurturing great morning talent. Can we afford to do less? A great morning show can bring higher ratings, bigger billing and a durable, long-lasting image. But, of course, great morning shows aren’t easy to find.
We’re looking, ultimately, for talented communicators who are interested in living and working the odd life that morning radio requires. We no longer need to restrict our talent pool to those who can slip cue a record and take meter readings on a transmitter. We need imaginative, intuitive communicators with something unique to say. They may today be comics or bloggers or vloggers or actors or any number of things. The Internet and Social Media allow stations many routes to help lift awareness of a new show. While it’s not an easy path, identifying potential talent, arming them with great knowledge of second-to-second radio and nurturing their success pays dividends for the station and the medium overall.