Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making a Syndicated Show Local

I think it's pretty obvious that the key to Radio's success and future lies in being Local and having strong ties to your local audience and community.   It's our BIG ADVANTAGE in the whole new media world that is very 'national and international' in its scope.  

We also see some big advantages in using Syndicated shows.  When you look at the debate in using a show like Bob and Tom in mornings the advantages usually outweigh everything.  Say it costs you 110K in market 120 to have the show.  If you tried to build a local show for 120K you would have to be very lucky to find 2 or 3 people who could even mount a very basic show for that price.  You wouldn't have the parade of comedians, stars, and the well timed humor of a veteran crew like Bob and Tom.  In many cases Bob and Tom outperform the rest of the station and add 20% or more to the overall shares and usually win (or come close) in 25-54s.  It takes a big local show to beat them.  

But, they can be beat with a local show.  A show that hits the streets, covers the local scene and preps with a vengeance can zip right past them.   Having worked on both sides of this street we've learned a few 'tricks':
  • Working With A Syndicated Show:  No matter if it's B/T or Alice Cooper or any one of the other shows the key is making it a real part of the the station.  Don't just aim the satellite dish, program the digital studio and sit back.  Make the show as local as possible with tons of recycling, custom inserts in the show, special imaging (including lots cut by the show''s stars) in the breaks and make sure to use the show in as may promotions as you can.   Don't just give away a Harley - make it the Bob and Tom Harley and tie them in someway on the air.  Weave the show into the WHOLE day and on the flip side weave your station into their show as much as you possibly can.  
  • Beating a Syndicated Show:  Make your show as local as possible and make it as great as possible.  Remember you are going up against great talent - average talent doesn't get syndicated.  Your team has to know the audience inside and out, know the community, and be super prepared every morning.  It takes lots of coaching, good talent in the room and a non stop effort in the streets.  You also need to package the show well, build a strong web interactive presence and make every show noteworthy/special.   
Yes they are simple steps, but so many times when look at the stations who don't win in either scenario they either thought that B/T would save the day all by themselves.   Or on the other side that just having a bit of local flavor would put their weak show on top.  

In the end it takes dedication and tons of hard work to make a show work today.  Especially in Mornings the field is often crowded.   And in today's tight belted world finding the resources to make a show into a winner is a challenge.   But, it can be done.  

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