Monday, August 31, 2009


After listening to Clear Channel's Premium Choice for Country, every break is based on talking about the music, the artists, the release and concert tours. Combine this with local fed stations, who ignore localisms, topicality and listener interaction and you feel like you have to be a "Nashville insider" to understand everything going on you hear. Most P-1 listeners of Country music like fun, entertainment and music. They aren't listening to hear the constant music dribble, they aren't that close to the music and don't follow it like programmers, music directors and air talent do. Heck, Casey Kasem counted down a Top-40 survey each week, yet he was so charismatic in how he did it, it was all listeners and personality based. There is too much talking about the music components and not enough talking to the listeners. Balance it for a more effective approach this Fall and start making an impression with the listener on who, what, where and why they listen and understand.


  1. Chuck - you and Alan Burns are dead-on with this. I've been preaching it for years, too. But too many people are apparantly lazy and/or clueless.

    Being local isn't hard, that's what is amazing. But to some, it's easier to pick up the radio-prep-sheet in the studio, and read the latest Nashville-music nonsense that no one cares about. How many country jocks today were droning on and on about the Keith Urban Hall of Fame concert announcment? Not me, not for a second. I talked about the free country shows in our market coming up this Labor Day weekend. Guess which mattered most to the listeners?

    If jocks would just pay attention to their own lives (if they have one) and what people around them are talking about, they'd have plenty of prep. Add to that, actual reading of the local papers and watching local TV (how many jocks do both?), and you are overwhelmed with things real people relate to. I do it all the time, and over the years the ratings have proven it works, as a jock AND as a PD.

    It's not just country radio either, of course. I JUST heard this on Sunday, a jock on a hot/AC station, going into David Cook's latest song, and the exact intro by the jock was "he's performing in Fargo North Dakota tonite, David Cook"

    No, I don't live in North Dakota. Try Pennsylvania. Unbelievable that a jock - even though part-time if he was - would think that matters.

  2. Hi Chuck…

    Emphasizing local content and listener interactivity is certainly a valid approach for an air personality, but I’d like to offer a perspective in favor of talking about the music.

    Simply, I believe music fans appreciate a “shared enthusiasm” for the music and performers they love. But this shouldn’t be confined to talking about tours and where a record ranks on the charts. Instead, it’s fun to hear about something that makes an artist a little more “real” – a little more like the rest of us.

    For example: I recently had an excellent 20 sec audio clip of Reba talking about the joy of her son graduating from high school. After a Reba song, I set it up by saying “hey, if you have high-schoolers around your home, you know how challenging it can be. Well, Reba feels the same and here’s what she had to say about her son graduating from high school…:

    In the clip, Reba mentioned how hard it is to get a kid though high school, how she and her husband were high-fiving the teachers, and how the whole family was excited about her son going to college. She sounded like an everyday mom.

    I’d just read a tasty little Randy Houser story online, so coming out of “Boots On”, I said, “have you ever been so angry that you did something completely nuts? Well, Randy Houser sure has. Before he hit it big, he’d finished performing in a club and they didn’t want to pay him. He was so angry, he picked up a bar stool and tossed it over the bar!” Negative perhaps, but certainly human.

    I believe this kind of content is real, and nudges the fans incrementally closer to the artists.

    Air personalities must play to their strengths. Over many years, and in different formats, I’ve always had the best response from listeners when I was simply an enthusiastic “presenter of music.” Reading, listening and becoming knowledgeable about the music was, and continues to be fun! I do it in my leisure time, and my natural enthusiasm shines through on the air. Listeners always mention it to me, no matter the format.

    Conversely, show prep about pop culture and stuff going on around town has been simply drudgery for me. My presentation of it on-air sounds fake. Besides, there are other people on my station and around town using that material for content, and doing a better job than I can.

    I contend that listeners to my station are there mostly because they like country music. If I can enhance their enjoyment of the music by sharing and reinforcing their enthusiasm for the music, I’ll do it. It’s an important role.

    Visualize mindless, numbing station promos or generic repeater radio drivel on one end of the content spectrum. On the other is well-executed high-profile local, community-oriented stuff by hosts who do it well. I’ll choose neither. I’ll be the host who’s effusive about the music, loves the performers, and shines a light on their personalities and humanness. It’s a meaningful and valuable role I’m proud to fulfill on my station.

    Nick Summers
    KPLM, Palm Springs, California