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John Frost
Goodratings

Tell Me A Story

 

 

 

                                

Part 1

Over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing some insights on how storytelling can impact your station, your air talent, your imaging, and even your promotions.  I’ll even go so far to say that the art of storytelling is one of the significant distinctions between highly successful Christian radio stations and ones that aren’t yet.  

We take it for granted that successful movies, books, television shows and even sermons must have compelling stories.  Seldom do I hear that concept related to a good radio station.  The typical evaluation tends to focus on the analytics---about how much, how little, how many, how often.  When chatting with our friends about a song, a book, or a movie our first question is not ‘how long is it?’ but rather ‘what’s it about?’  Limiting the evaluation of your station to the analytics can make for a technically efficient product but one that may not be very interesting.  

So, what’s your station about?  How do you tell your story?    

Part 2

Last week I shared some insights on how storytelling can impact your station, your air talent, your imaging, and even your promotions.  I shared that the art of storytelling is one of the significant distinctions between highly successful Christian radio stations and ones that aren't yet.  

This week I’m sharing how the effective use of TIME and SPACE can transform content into one of your station's strengths.  

My brilliant friend Gary Morland of New Life 91.9 in Charlotte shares, “All stories take place in specifics of time and space. People are numb to generalities, even true, spiritual, generalities. Even spiritual things are played out in time and space. As soon as you hear, ‘This morning, as I was walking out of Wal-Mart..,’ your ears perk up—you know something’s coming. God has designed every human to want to know, ‘What happens next?’ All we have to do is take advantage of that.”   

You can improve your station immediately by minimizing generalities, particularly spiritual generalities which can be often perceived as trite even if the core message is true.  One I hear most often is what I call the Christian radio default of ending breaks with “we’ll be praying for them.”   The sentiment is good, of course, but the phrase is often thrown in because the air talent can’t think of a better way to end the break.  (I’ll share later about the importance of strong endings.  You’ll notice that very sentence is a tease and not a very strong ending).   I’ve heard “we’ll be praying for them” as the wrap up phrase for everything from lost dogs to fender benders to washing whites with colors (I’m not making this up).  Having your talent consistently apply a context of time and space greatly diminishes the likelihood that a concept will be interpreted as trite.  The more spiritual the thought the more personal it needs to be.  

Using time and space moves you from stating facts to telling stories, allowing you to engage your listeners with an idea and allowing them to participate in the discovery right along with you.  In other words, a story is an adventure you take together.   

I love Seth Godin’s perspective:

“People don’t believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves.
What leaders do is they give people stories they can tell themselves.  Stories about the future and about change.”

Part 3

The last two weeks I have shared some insights on how storytelling can impact your station, your air talent, your imaging, and even your promotions.  I shared that the art of storytelling is one of the significant distinctions between highly successful Christian radio stations and ones that aren't yet.  

This week I’ll focus on some story telling words of wisdom from my brilliant friend Tommy Kramer, who I’ve known and worked with for parts of thirty years.  (I say ‘parts’ because I’d hire him, then he’d quit, and I’d hire him back later).  Tommy is perhaps the most remarkable coach of talent I have ever seen.  In fact I hired him to be my program director when we launched a 24 hour a day sports station in Orlando, Florida, a decade or so ago, and he was so effective in coaching the talent that I decided to have him work with all five of the stations in our cluster.   

Tommy’s words:

All stories should contain an Emotion. Without emotion, it's just a recounting of the facts.
And the 2 words to remember are Discovery and Surprise.
Discovery--meaning that something is discovered through the "arc" of the story--keeps you from repeating yourself, or even worse, ending at basically the same place you started from.
Surprise (not Shock, which a lot of people think is the same thing) is essential. It can be simply the words you use, or it can be literally arriving at a "destination" we didn't quite expect.

When you get where you do things in a way that no one else can, you gain a special place in the Listener's mind. A station without surprises is a station that's not worth listening to.”  

I hope you’ll share this tip with your on air team!


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John is a partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, and has been a successful major market disc jockey and program director for such companies as CBS, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Sandusky, Gannett, and Alliance during his 38 year broadcast career.  John joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999.