"If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” Milton Berle
One of my fondest radio memories, as a ten-year old, is listening to 702 on a Saturday afternoon while lunching with my family.
We would ritualistically listen to a feature called “The Reigning Brain”, which was an on-going quiz show that happened every Saturday at 1pm. I was young and impressionable and by no means the desired target audience for 702, I did however I find myself listening to 702 every Saturday. I had no choice in matter, I was engaged in a radio feature aimed at people 30 years my senior, and yet 702 found me as a captive listener.
In a time when people are being told to stay at home, self-isolate and quarantine, you too will find yourself with an audience that potentially doesn’t want to be there. There can be no doubt that time spent listening will increase.
As a young broadcaster, you are about to enter a unique period in broadcasting history. People will be turning to their favourite radio personalities for two reasons.
1 -They trust you, they trust radio’s credibility, and they are hoping you will guide them through uncertain times;
2 - for twenty-one days your audience will be forced to do something they don’t necessarily want to do. They are being forced to stay at home and occupy themselves. For millennial's this is a foreign concept and is something many people have never had to do.
From the get-go, you already have access to a bigger more engaged (captive) audience. They are literally imprisoned in their homes with limited movement and bored. People will be looking to all forms of media to update and entertain them.
So how are you going to convert a captive audience into a captivated audience? How will you provide an escape for your listener? How will you use “theatre of the mind” in these thought-provoking times to create audio landscapes, stories and vivid pictures?
Yours opportunity rests in your ability to deliver relevant and appealing content to a frustrated and bored audience. Regardless of what kind of content you are broadcasting, and more importantly how you are broadcasting it, there are three easy steps that you can follow to captivate your audience.
Tease: Use every available platform to tease your audience into tuning in and listening to your shows. The name of the game is attention retention. If you can get the audience interested in your content, you have them one step closer to being captivated by your offering.
Engage: Remember that for the first time there is a universal truth to the actions of both presenter and listener, lockdown. You will be doing exactly what your audience is doing. You too will be sitting at home looking for ways to escape boredom. Engage with you listener, physically phone your friends and collect stories, WhatsApp someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, use your social feeds to ask questions and get responses, all of these will help in collecting usable stories on air.
Be Real: Tell the truth, if you are broadcasting from your room on your cell phone say so. If you are feeling a bit stir-crazy say so. Use this time to tell the stories you would want to hear. Allow yourself the luxury of opening up and being as real as you can with your listener.
There’s an argument to be had that we are competing with Netflix and smartphone media on a more aggressive scale than before. Remember that your audience is looking for a distraction from the mundane. Entertainment is about variety, options and choice. There are only so many episodes of Friends someone will sit through before they start looking for something else to do.
Now in my thirties, my family still meet for lunch but I’m in charge of the audio entertainment. In lockdown will I be captive or captivated?