“When he sold food, you salivated!”
That was Willard Scott talking about DJ Eddie Gallaher in a Washington Post piece.
Eddie graced the D.C. airwaves for 53 years, passing away just a few years after his last on-air gig at 88. I had the pleasure of working with him during his final stint, and lately I’ve been thinking about Eddie as I’ve gone down the rabbit hole listening to podcasts about food, restaurants and cooking.
A confirmed bachelor, Eddie loved going out to eat, and that hobby served him well in helping to bring business to the radio stations that employed him. When Eddie spoke about a dining experience -- whether in pre-recorded endorsements, interviews with chefs or during extemporaneous rants -- a listener couldn’t help but pay attention.
While he didn’t live long enough to do a food podcast, he would have been great at it because he was an amazing communicator in love with the subject matter.
Why is this topic important? As different as we all are, we all gotta eat! Food, cooking and eating are themes relevant to every radio format, and -- sales managers take note -- this is subject matter that does generate revenue when executed with thought and planning.
Where to start? Is there someone on your staff who could become your on-air foodie? If not, maybe you can recruit one or two new cuisine communicators.
To be relevant, your foodie must be comfortable doing restaurant reviews, local farm and produce reports and delivering recipe suggestions. Your candidate must enjoy eating and be passionate, articulate, a good writer and a positive person. If you can find someone with those attributes who already has local food cred -- fantastic!
Note that if you do decide to take a sales approach to this content, you’ll want to focus on the positive -- especially when it comes to restaurant reviews, always finding something good to say about a dining experience, even if it’s just one item to dish about.
If you’re able to bake your new foodie into the morning show a few times a week and establish her as a new personality, I highly recommend starting with that approach. Introducing a new food personality via your trusted morning show will jumpstart listeners’ awareness and acceptance.
She can review one restaurant per segment, occasionally even bringing in samples the client may wish to provide. Other segments could feature things like getting the morning team to make her favorite salad dressing. There’s nothing like radio for describing how something tastes.
And if you do have any local hot chefs who have become semi-celebrities, it is cool to have them on live as well.
No live local morning show? You can always insert pre-recorded segments.
When it comes to food, there are so many topics, you will have difficulty finding enough airtime on your main channel to cover it all. This is where podcasting, social media, an HD channel and your website all come into play. While the short on-air segments can give your foodie mass reach and frequency, the other platforms permit showcasing long-form chef and owner interviews; food photos; live streams of cooking exhibitions; lists of what’s at the farmers’ market this week; detailed recipes; and in-depth restaurant reviews.
Don’t forget food contesting! Who doesn’t want to win lunch for the entire office or a romantic dinner for two?
Be cautious about coupons. Too often coupons fail because the offer stinks. Free desserts and 10 percent off a meal do drive interest. When coupons don’t work, radio stations get blamed for poor results.
Need more ideas? Google “top food podcasts,” and you’ll be amazed at both the quantity and quality of many food-oriented shows. Aside from networks, you’ll find very few radio broadcasters listed, which just verifies to me that this is a tasty opportunity for local stations.
After all, cooking shows, restaurant reviews and recipes were on local radio’s menu for decades. It’s only in recent years that the airwaves have had a food shortage.
Okay, I’ll stop with the puns now (not because I want to, but because it’s time for lunch). Eat and be merry, for tomorrow we broadcast.