Obviously, these tips presume that at your radio station, the program director and the imaging director are not the same person.
1. Don’t Write the Promos, Liners, etc.
Yeah, I know why you want to write them. It’s because:
A) You’re a “hands on” program director.
That’s a poor excuse. If you have time to write station liners, you’re neglecting some of the other duties that only the PD should be doing.
B) It’s easier for you to write them than to figure out what you want and then explain it to the person who should write them.
So you’ve chosen the easy way, not the best way.
If you can’t express your vision to your imaging director, either you don’t have a vision or you’re a poor communicator.
Either way, that’s a problem for your station.
C) It’s fun.
Of course it is. You sit around and brainstorm what you think are witty liners.
Maybe they’re witty, maybe not.
Maybe they’re witty but they don’t communicate what the listener needs to hear.
Maybe they’re witty but they’re impossible to perform and produce in the time frame allocated to your imaging messages.
Why should you have all the fun?
2. Give Them a Vision.
PROGRAM DIRECTOR: “We need something for Wham-A-Rama.”
IMAGING DIRECTOR: “What’s the feeling we’re trying to communicate?”
PD: “Oh, you’ll come up with something.”
ID: “What do we need to say?”
PD: “Just make sure you get the sponsor names in there.”
PD: “What the heck is this piece of garbage?? Why didn’t you include artist drops? And there should be listener reactions; it’s a contest, for crying out loud!”
A program manager who tells the imaging director, “I can’t really tell you what I want, but I’ll know it when I hear it” is either incompetent, lazy, or scared.
Incompetent = not able to crystalize a vision.
Lazy = not disciplined enough to sit down and figure out what the message should be.
Scared = afraid to try, for fear they won’t be able to come up with a helpful description for the producer.
“I’ll know it when I hear it” without any type of guidance or inspiration is the hallmark of an amateur.
3. Give Them Time.
If you need a 30-second promo 30 minutes from now, any producer can give you just that: a 30-second promo.
Any of those will be a pleasant surprise.
4. Figure Out What You Want the Promo to Accomplish, and Then Communicate That to Them.
“We want to build anticipation so that when we finally announce that tickets are available, everyone rushes to their computers or their telephones or the sponsor locations to get them.”
“The advertisers get 30 weekly promos as part of the package. We’re an edgy station, so make them edgy. Just be sure to mention the advertisers.”
“This goes between two songs. We want to make sure people know what station they’re listening to, and we want to do it in a way that reinforces our family image.”
5. Don’t Copy Other Radio Stations.
Wait, never mind. If I need to explain why you shouldn’t copy your station’s imaging from other stations, you won’t listen to me anyway.
6. Don’t Underestimate the Intelligence or Awareness of Your Audience.
“Great promo, but our audience wouldn’t ‘get’ it.”
Unless you’re using insiders’ radio jargon, what makes you think the audience won’t understand?
Someone please remind me what intelligence test we had to pass before we were allowed to become disc jockeys (and then program directors).
You’re a Country station and you don’t think your listeners know who Kim Kardashian is? You’re engaging in Ostrich Programming.
You might consider taking your head out of the sand.
In truth, many radio programmers are less aware of the culture at large because part of The Radio Disease is we tend to live radio 24/7.
7. Do Share with Them the Emotional Response You Want to Elicit.
The most important question is not, “What do we want to say?”
It’s “What do we want them to feel?” (Thanks, Chuck Blore.)
8. Treat Them Special.
With networking and satellites and syndication, often the imaging guy is the only truly local person whose work consistently is heard on your radio station.
You want that person to be happy.
9. Give Them the Tools They Need.
We radio people have a long and proud history of “making do” with what we have.
But that’s part of the industry’s youthful stage, and radio now is a mature business.
“There’s lots of free software out there. Use some of that. And your Kaypro 64 is a real workhorse.”
In a mature, intensely competitive market, forcing your production people to create your station’s imaging with antiquated or amateur tools isn’t “making do”; it’s “making doo.”
Not all tools, by the way, revolve around work stations.
If your Imaging Director (or Production Director or Creative Services Director) spends more than 36 hours a week in the production studio, install a mini-refrigerator in that studio.
She can stock it with her own refreshments, but every time she opens it during yet another marathon production session, she’ll silently thank you.
10. Give Them Deadlines.
Give them deadlines not as a whip, but as a gauge.
Your Imaging Director is overworked. Every 10 minutes someone drops something new in his inbox.
Tell him when each project is due, so he can prioritize his workload.
It’s discouraging to stay up half the night, trying to perfect a piece, only to be told the next day, “Oh, it was just an idea I had. Let’s put that one on the shelf and maybe one day we’ll look at it again.”
Recommended Resource for Radio Program Directors