Expert Columns

Summer is a great time to strengthen your station brand. Your team is out and about in the community, you're running a number of promotions, and you're connecting one-on-one with listeners.
Before you head out to that next remote, take some time to assess your brand and ask if it is still connecting with your audience, on-air, online, and in-person. And here's the best place to start. Ask yourself, “What does my brand say about our station?
Stop just a second and take a look at your business card. Take a look at your program guide. Check your web site, Pinterest and Facebook pages to see what your brand says about you. Here are three things to look for:
1) Does my brand still connect with my audience? Branding is more than just a logo or an imager. It's a promise you make to your listeners. It covers everything that you do. So put it this way: Do listeners feel like I'm keeping my promise?
2) Does my brand image still look/sound relevant? Words and design change quickly. Are you still using the same words that you used in 2005? That's not a bad thing if listeners still connect with your promise to stay safe for little ears. But have you and your listeners outgrown that concept? Are you more than “safe” for families? Families may want more than safe. They may want shelter from life's storms.
3) Does my brand stay consistent across all media channels? You're more than just an on-air signal. You're also a web programmer, social media communicator, video producer, and in some cases, a publisher. Do all of your channels march in lock-step? Will someone know what to expect on air by reading your Twitter feed? Do your jocks reflect the messages on your Pinterest page?

We're just a few days away from the Memorial Day holiday, and you're likely head-over-heels in planning your summer promotions. All of that takes up valuable time, and you may need a head-start in prepping for your holiday air shift. So here are a few quotes and thoughts to use on your show.


“To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."  - General George Washington, Revolutionary War, 1st American President.

“Hold fast to the Bible as the...anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.” - Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the U.S. Army during the American Civil War, and the 18th President.

"There are things in the old Book which I may not be able to explain, but I fully accept it as the infallible Word of God, and receive its teachings as inspired by the Holy Spirit." - General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

“...The only thing to do was to pray and trust God.” - Sgt. Alvin C. York, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for his service in World War I.

“...God helped me out. I had been living for God and working in the church some time before I come to the army. So I am a witness to the fact that God did help me out of that hard battle ...” - Sgt. Alvin C. York, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for his service in World War I. 

“No man can possibly stand for truth and righteousness or employ their power unless he is in a direct relationship with the Divine Source. The wireless connection must be established with God at one end and man at the other.” - Teddy Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Leader of the “Rough Riders” in the Spanish-American War, and 26th President of the United States.


Invite listeners to talk about their hero/soldier. Ask for the soldier's name, the war in which they fought, and a brief highlight of their soldier's service. Be prepared for some deeply personal stories since the day is dedicated to America's fallen soldiers. Use these sparingly.

Dedicate your station's Facebook page to America's Heroes and invite families to post photos of their loved ones who served in the military. Encourage families of soldiers who fought in World War II and Korea to post, as many of those soldiers are no longer with us.

Interview a serviceman or WACS member from World War II. Invite them to share their memories and talk about those with whom they served.

Interview military chaplains and ask them to share ways we can encourage today's servicemen and servicewomen. Talk about ways to support the families of those whose loved ones are deployed.


One of the best interviews I ever did was with Lt. Col. Matt Urban, a World War II soldier who surpassed Audie Murphy for the most decorated soldier. Urban is not as well known, partly because he didn't receive his last medal until President Jimmy Carter was in office – some 30 years after the war ended. Despite the delay, Urban was never upset, never felt slighted. He was a true hero in every sense of the word, and was proud that he was able to serve his country. I had the opportunity to interview him by phone for a half-an-hour, and at the end of the interview, he invited me to meet him in person. Unfortunately, I never had the chance. Lt. Col. Urban passed away not long after our interview. However, I'm blessed that I was able to record his story and capture a special part of American history. You have the same opportunities – to record the history of those who have served our country...and to share those stories with your listeners. Make the most of those opportunities! People long to hear about heroes. And these stories make for “must hear” moments, so be sure to share these stories this Memorial Day!

Over the next several weeks, many moms in your listening audience are planning for the end of the school year. For some, that means planning their child’s graduation celebration parties.
This presents your station with an opportunity to get involved with mom and her life, and to give her some practical tips she can use when getting ready for this big event.
As you plan your programming and promotions, think of the things that will be beneficial to mom. Some things that immediately come to mind involve party planning, buying clothes for special end-of-the-the-school year ceremonies, and transitioning for college.
Help mom out by featuring experts in these areas. Interview a party/event planner and ask how she would help a family get ready for a graduation party. Ask if the planner has a basic checklist that you can post on your station’s social media sites.
Are parents thinking about all the things their son or daughter will need to take with them to college? Invite a home organizer on your morning show to talk about what kids need in the dorm and how to pack wardrobes, books, electronics, and all those necessary gadgets. Don’t stop there, plan to give an inbound college student a new tablet, iPad, or top-of-the-line computer. Or go all out and give away the electronics…and a high-end entertainment system (and don’t forget to tell them where to find their hometown station on the web.)
This is a big transition period for parents and kids. Invite a family counselor on air and share ways that parents can help their child transition well.
And don’t forget the most important thing a kid can take to college: Their Faith. Barna Research tells us time and time again that kids start to drift away from their faith while in college. So get proactive and talk with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade) or other college ministries and help parents know what’s available for their students.
Be mom’s hero this time of year. Help her know what’s ahead…and that she’s not alone in dealing with the end-of-the-school year issues!

Memorial Day Weekend is the “unofficial” start to the summer season. Is mom already pulling her hair out from trying to come up with ideas to keep the kids occupied? Come to her rescue with a couple of simple activities she can do on her own time:
• Summer Bucket List – Ask mom what five things she'd like to do this summer? Then give her a simple checklist so she can keep track of them. Create a simple “Summer Bucket List” form for your Pinterest/Web pages. Mention it on air and in your regular e-letters. Bonus points if you provide ides for mom to consider.
• Epic Chalk Art Contest – Get the kids out of the house for a few hours by promoting a chalk art contest. Keep it simple: The drawings can be done at the listener's own house. Mom just needs to snap and send a picture of the art to your station's Facebook page. (No kid photos, please) Promote the contest over the course of the week and be sure to drive listeners to your social sites so they can leave comments and choose the best one. Hey...while the kids are drawing the art, can they also put in your station call letters? It'd make a great header for your Facebook page.
• Rediscover Your Hometown – Got any free tourist attractions, museums, or nature centers? Free is the key word. Invite the local museum curator, host, or PR person to share some of the fun stuff about the location. Maybe talk about a special day at the site. (Again, free is the word) Send your morning host to the site ahead of time to take pictures/video and post. Maybe get creative and set up an audio scavenger hunt so kids can record nature sounds. The up side to this idea is that it gets the kids out of the house...and provides you with fodder for your public information file.
Whatever you do this summer, remember that this is a great time to connect with moms in your listening audience. Find ways to interact and encourage active listening and participation.

America was surprised last week to learn that one of its oldest magazines is ceasing publication as a monthly publication. After 131 years, Ladies Home Journal has cut its staff and announced it is changing from a monthly magazine to a quarterly.
For those of us in media, it's another reminder of how our landscape is changing. A reminder that it is the end of an era. Magazines, print, TV, and radio are all changing as a result of the online world. In the case of Ladies' Home Journal, parent company Meredith Corporation said it made the decision because the magazine had too broad of an approach and had an aging (57+) readership. Meredith Corporation told the New York Times* that instead of a “broad appeal” type of magazine, they are forging ahead with publications that are highly focused topical magazines such as Every Day with Rachel Ray, AllRecipes, and Eating Well.
Why is the demise of a magazine important to radio? Two reasons: First, it is the end of an era. Ladies' Home Journal continued to boast a strong readership (approximately 2 million), and was a legacy publication (mothers passed subscriptions to their daughters for two to three generations). However, the legacy audience was not the right audience for today's advertisers. Advertisers wanted to reach a highly-targeted group of individuals. Radio faces a similar dilemma, however, wise radio programmers already know that the era of legacy audience and legacy funding is ending. Today's advertisers want in-depth data on audiences. They want to make sure that every dollar they spend gets used to the max. You already know this, but it's worth the reminder that we are in a new world.
But the cessation of Ladies' Home Journal has a second lesson for radio and it’s this: We are in a new era. The online world gives you the opportunity to tinker with new ideas and new ways to reach your audience. This is a tougher world to compete in, however, you can offer those laser-focused resources to your audience and track the results. Have you considered using your online channels to as a sandbox to try new ideas? To train new talent? To experiment with new sources of advertising? It's a great time to create new connections to your existing – and possibly untapped – audience.
Learn from the lessons of Ladies' Home Journal and remember that times are changing, but that this new era gives you the opportunity to build even stronger connections with your audience and advertisers.

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