chatting with a co-worker who had her first Disney World experience
at Momentum, and I enjoyed getting to hear her first encounters
with “Pixie Dust.” One member of her entourage was a bigger Disney
freak than me, and as they took off on “Peter Pan’s Flight” her
friend said “See the streets of London below? There’s little tiny
cars moving down there. They didn’t have to do that...but they
That got me
thinking. Even though I wasn’t at Momentum, I know that Disney
theme parks are natural classrooms. Some principles I learned
working as an Orlando Cast Member years ago are applicable for
radio, and I discovered some of them again during a trip there in
August. So, based on three things my co-worker said, here’s a “tip
of the Miceberg” look at stuff you may have inadvertently learned:
1. “They didn’t have to do that...but they did”
Walt Disney was
adamant about “plussing,” and it continues to this day. Plussing is
taking an already good idea, adding to it, and making it better.
Why? Because he knew that his audience appreciated the difference.
They felt special when someone took the time to give them something
out of the ordinary to discover.
are incredibly elaborate, like creating an alien language on the
signage at Stitch’s Great Escape - something you can decipher if you
look hard enough. Other things are incredibly inexpensive, like the
ticketing cast member we met who sprinkled Mickey confetti leading
to his turnstile, and who told my kids that it caused only happy
families to go through his line.
“plussing” your station? Doing out of the ordinary things like
changing out the imaging regularly? Coaching your talents to not say
the same things the same way? Calling your donors just to thank
them? Giving your listeners a feeling of discovery - that each day
has something slightly different to learn in-between the songs they
love so much?
2. “I could just tell a difference between Universal and Disney”
went to “Rock the Universe” instead of “Night of Joy” and she could
tell the difference in the experience. She said Universal was an
immersive park, but not in a way she could peg. There’s advanced
“wow-factor” attractions there, and beautifully themed environments,
but it doesn’t cause our hearts to beat as strong as it does from a
chance encounter with Cinderella. For instance, I have a picture of
my wife hugging Chip, her favorite Disney character, and her delight
is forever burned in my mind. A fuzzy Disney chipmunk will be much
stronger to us two years from now than the few fuzzy details I’ll be
able to cobble together of the Harry Potter ride.
This speaks of
the fundamental difference we have in Christian radio vs. our
secular counterparts. Mix 107’s Morning Show and Power 88’s Morning
Show can both talk about a 9 year old’s wonder in meeting Minnie,
but only Power can tie that into the excitement that God has when He
Are your air
talents weaving life experiences, song lyrics, and spiritual
principles together? Those are three strands of a cord way more
powerful than the rope Captain Hook uses to swing away from the
Crocodile. That kind of rope endures your listeners to you,
ultimately snatching them away from the competition and ultimately
away from the jaws of death.
3. “They don’t have an award for my job”
So this isn’t
something my co-worker observed about Disney, but about our awards.
However, it is something that Disney addresses. Disney geek common
knowledge states that the windows on Main Street contain a lot of
the unsung back stage cast members of the Walt Disney Company. Sure
the Executives, Visionaries, and Leaders are there, and Walt, as
the creator of the whole thing always has a light shining.
However, folks like Carpenters, Ride Designers, and even the long
tenured Superintendent of Janitorial Services have Main Street
Windows. It’s the highest honor you can get as a cast member.
The Echo Award
winners got well deserved windows this week. Some of us may never
get a window, but the light is always shining from the Creator, and
our “job” is to get to show that light. How amazing is that! It’s
far better than the piddly achievements of man that Epcot showcases.
However, we all
need to remind each other that the Creator is shining that light on
each one of us too. Always. He is so pleased with us, just for who
we are, not because of our performance. Are you praying each week
for your co-workers? How about each day? When every station
continually praises God for every staffer, and every staffer
naturally thanks one other from the outflow of that praise, you’ll
have a radio station that people will be drawn to.
Sterling Tarrant is a 32 year Radio "Back Stager", and is the
Production Director at KSBJ Houston. For 10 years prior to that he
was the Senior Creative Producer at Focus on the Family
Broadcasting, and the Creative Services Director at KBIQ and The
Word in Music Satellite Network in Colorado Springs. He's been an
overall "Messaging Guru" for more years than he can count and you
can reach him at either
firstname.lastname@example.org, or through his website
Oh yeah, his
3 year stint at Disney was as a "Entertainment Costuming Assistant"
where he actually got to be Goofy, and got to see a number of
celebrities in their underwear. (Sorry, TMI).