Saturday, November 20, 2010

Developing New Talent (Saturday Catch-Up) From Radio-Info

Developing New Talent

Nearly every time I visit a radio station client, I end up in a conversation with a concerned manager about the scarcity of new talent.

The bigger and more important question is NOT, “Where will we find new talent?” The most pressing question is, “What kind of talent do you really need?”

The personalities you want to hire are now using much more than a microphone to communicate. Personalities are now empowered with new ways to reach the audience—including blogs, Twitter accounts, text messaging, and streaming audio/video.

We must trust and empower these important people in our organization to do what they do best—attract audiences. It is ironic that some radio stations will trust their personalities to take over 50,000-watt-government-licensed radio stations as operators for several hours—but don’t permit them to have their own Facebook accounts.

In the age of technology, it’s impossible to monitor and manage every single communication that your air staff will share with the outside world. Times like this call upon managers to train their staff, share a vision and mission for the brand, and trust their team to bring the brand to life. Hire adults. Trust until proven untrustworthy.

The job description for any Personality/Content Producer today should evolve to include:

• Produce content daily for each of the station’s platforms:
o Local Brand
o Broadcast Signal
o Website
o Internet Radio / Stream
o Database / Direct Relationships with Audience

• Understand mechanics of cross-promotion and how to build audience and time-spent-with-brand on each of the above-listed platforms.

• Monitor other media, and spend time being creative! You are a valuable voice in the community. Use it.

• Manage a Twitter account and blog, and update them twice per day.

• Become an advocate for the sales staff and local business.

• Ask this question: What can I do to make someone’s life better today in my audience? How can I be of service? Then, find an answer for this question every day.

• Embrace your privilege to serve. Carpe diem.

In fact, perhaps the digital realm is where you find new talent. It may seem that talent is scarce because there is less new talent in overnight shifts, but in reality, new talent is emerging every day online.

My colleague at McVay New Media, Jon Erdahl, recently wrote:

“With all the channels and opportunities available to us today, perhaps we are just overlooking some key areas in which to leverage present talent we employ and, perhaps more importantly, give life to new entertainers that can continue to feed compelling content to the airwaves. The challenge remains; let's make Radio a destination place for the brightest and best talent of today and tomorrow. Let's take a look at some ways in which digital assets can help us grow that talent as well as provide our present talent some fresh outlets, a lab of sorts, in which to test, create, and even make some mistakes.

"First, let's fish for talent. Part-timers hanging around? Street team members with attitude? Why not get them in on the streaming and web products now? Search for that talent in unlikely places (I have hired gregarious waiters to become morning show co-hosts in fact) and mine the web (Funny or Die, YouTube, Facebook hot lists, Twitter trends, etc). Start to identify and isolate talent who are already broadcasting through these various social channels in your own backyard. Bring that talent in to the station and let them create. Find out what makes them already successful and work to develop channels that will exploit their creativity (start with blogging or concert reporting with their own Flip Video camera). A huge benefit of finding these gems is that they may automatically come with a built in audience (their friends and fans... some well into the thousands) that are ready to follow them to the next platform. Of course in this process, their fans will find your Radio station and who couldn't use a few more P-1s these days? Start mining for talent today.

"Now that you have found some talent, let's give them an opportunity to create and have some fun. What are you doing with your stream? Has it become a place for re-purposed terrestrial audio? If so, you are missing a huge opportunity to maximize that channel while providing a launching pad for creative talent to earn their wings. Why not use all of your weekend shifts (start with the night shifts if you like, while over-nights should be an automatic) to place that talent which you may have recently come across. Break away from your simulcast stream and let some of this up and coming talent voice track various weekend shifts. It is almost real time radio and they can work with you (make sure you do those airchecks) to develop their character, content, and what will make them unique. We have done this in several locations and our farm team is growing.

"How about your current talent? What are you doing to help them grow their career? The Digital world has many opportunities for your talent to create and exploit their assets but first, you need to find out their passions. Do a talent profile with everyone at the radio station (yes receptionist to janitor need to be included). Remember, you are looking for fresh talent, new perspectives, and unique talents that can help you grow your own content while giving a voice to those who may turn into super stars. This will also afford your current talent the chance to tell us what they like to do so we can isolate opportunities for them in the digital space. Ask questions that probe for key content areas such as:

+ Political
+ Humor
+ Entertainment
+ Fashion
+ Spiritual/Religious
+ Family
+ Gaming
+ Business
+ Lifestyle
+The supernatural
+ Books
+ Charity Involvement

"In one of our talent profile exercises, we found a receptionist that had a passion for saving money through effective coupon clipping each week. We developed a weekly on-air segment with advice as to where moms can go on the web for the best deals. That segment has also become a weekly blog where the station is selling half price coupon programs to key clients. We have added no talent expense, increased revenue, and have created another local celeb to maximize our brand.

"When you identify your on-air personalities inner talents, ask them to pick a digital channel they would like to exploit; we call it finding your blow-horn! Here are some choices:

+ Blogs
+ Twitter
+ E-mail
+ Web
+ TV
+ YouTube (Can't get that weekly countdown show you want to do on the local affiliate?  Who cares? You now have your own TV station at your beck and call.  3D Radio at its best!)
+ Local Newspaper Website (swap talent where you have their writers guest/host radio shows and segments while your talent writes TV and movie reviews for example).

"You can see that the available possibilities to grow and discover new talent are limitless in the digital world. It just takes a bit of time to identify the local assets and then run with it. Chances are, when you look closely at how your digital platform is performing, you are leaving a lot of golden communication moments on the table. Now is the time to re-set that table and create content opportunities that will clearly separate you from the competition.”

Use your digital assets to give your talent a new place to exercise their creative muscle. Furthermore, use the internet to find people in your market who are creating content every day. You might be surprised to find that your next great morning show talent is discovered through their own YouTube channel. Hire people who know how to make noise and love doing it. 

About the Writer

DisplayFuture-minded and passionate, Daniel Anstandig’s experience includes developing digital business strategies for media companies, designing content strategies for broadcast and interactive, and coaching executives.

As the President of McVay New Media Consulting, Anstandig has advised The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Clear Channel R&D, The White House Commission on Remembrance, Glencoe-McGraw Hill, and various broadcasting companies in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

In 2009, Anstandig founded Listener Driven Radio, a software company that develops interactive programming tools for broadcasters. The company’s premiere “crowdcasting” product, which integrates real-time audience voting into a radio station’s live playlist, has already been utilized by Citadel Broadcasting, CBS, Virgin Radio in Europe, Harvard Broadcasting, and several other major broadcasters around the world.

Prior to joining McVay Media in 2001, Daniel’s experience includes stints as General Manager, Network/Syndicated Program Director, and On-Air Personality. In 2001, he was named the #1 Young Entrepreneur by Young Entrepreneur Magazine, in recognition of an internet-radio company he founded. Daniel is also a proud two-time recipient of Edison Media Research’s 30 Under 30 Award.

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