By John Pellegrini
A question was posed recently on the RAP Facebook Group, and it’s interesting enough that I thought I would weigh in with some thoughts.
The question was essentially, ‘how do you image multiple stations with different formats?’ This is the strange situation so many Production Directors find themselves in these days. Clusters with five or six different stations, each one a different format, and all have to sound ‘authentic’ or ‘unique’. More often than not it’s one production person handling the imaging sound requirements of all those stations.
My way of asking that question would be how do you image different formats and cater your branding to different audiences without losing your mind?
The answer is: steal everything you can off the internet.
This isn’t a joke answer.
As I discussed in my previous article, “Selling What You Don’t Like”, the internet is a phenomenal resource for just about any subject you can think of, especially when it comes to music and politics. (They seem to go hand-in-hand, don’t they?)
You can find everything from fan pages to artist’s own websites, to Facebook pages, to media sites devoted to the subject matter.
Need some new ideas for your testosterone-fueled Alt Rock format? Find the Facebook pages for some of your major bands and see what the fans are saying. For that matter, check out the snarky comments people are leaving on your station’s FB page. Or, go to local media buzz boards or fan pages and check out what’s being said there, if nothing else to make fun of their comments.
Every classic rock band and oldies band has their history posted somewhere, if not in Wikipedia, then on fan pages. Look at those pages for inspiring snippets like “This Day In Rock History…” or things like that. You can even go further by digging deep into some of your better known band’s histories so that you can put little segments together talking about what the band was going through in the studio when they recorded a particular song (which can be conveniently played before the song airs).
Country music has a monster online presence, with huge fan sites and media sites, and the opportunities are endless, from unknown history to current happenings in the lives of the artists, as well as the fans. Want to go further? Profile the songwriters, who in Country and some other formats, aren’t necessarily the artists who recorded the music. All of this stuff is easily available online.
There are lots of humor sites too, for current event and topical humor to slice of life ideas that relate to the lifestyle of just about any format you’re thinking of. And don’t forget historical websites… not just for music, you can also pull info for lifestyle, especially if you’re in a ‘classic’ or oldie’s genre of whatever music format in which you’re dwelling.
Other ideas? Ever try doing some profiles of the city, township, county, and/or state that you live in? All of those places probably have websites and probably there are comments about them from people available online. Great park or recreation area near you? You might find something interesting you can use in your imaging on their websites.
Websites of news outlets can also be a great source for entertainment related information that can be turned into imaging ideas. But remember you can’t use direct audio from those sources without getting into licensing fee troubles. Besides, how many times can you use drops from movies or TV before it gets to the point where you’ll be fired if you do it again?
Even more valuable than the news stories themselves are the ‘comments’ section that each story generates. These comments from the ‘vox populous’ can be ridiculously stupid, if not brain-dead drooling, and perfect for skewering (either pro or con) in your station imaging. You might even come up with some character ideas for one of your morning shows with this stuff.
Another source: websites devoted to sports, hobbies, or events that fit with a particular audience. What are hunting websites saying? Baseball, football, basketball, any sport? What are the kids saying about their favorite video games? What are the top video games played by people who listen to Country, Alternative, Classic Rock, or Light Rock? Comments sections of product pages like on Amazon or major retail outlets are a great source of just quick quotes and snippets of jargon that will be instantly recognizable and easily translated to your station’s imaging.
Again, the smart thing to do is to re-write the text you use so that it becomes part of your station, and not just some random quote you lift. Each quote will lead to others, and it’s through that process of refinement that your best brand imaging will surface.
It is a difficult time in radio where so many of my production brethren are doing so much more with so much less, and in some cases for a lot less salary than we used to have. The days of one production person for one station are long gone. The fortunate thing at least for imaging and lifestyle branding is we have so much more information about so many different subjects and genres so readily available. All it takes is the right kind of exploiting and you’ll have a wealth of ideas… and if you can figure out how to turn that wealth of ideas into a wealth of money, so much the better.
Once again the key is to take what you find and refine it into your station’s brand. You’ll find it’s far easier than trying to come up with stuff by just staring at a blank computer screen in-between sessions of Minecraft. But we won’t go there. Let’s just say that you could have a worse ‘day at the office’ than spending an hour or so browsing the internet for imaging ideas.