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The Great Outdoors for Fun and Profit 

Stations should tap into the natural benefits of outside activities 

Duluth, Minn., rock station KQDS(FM) hosts a Great Outdoors blog at https://95kqds.com/. It features “experiences, tips and discussion.”

I love to hike, bike and walk, especially on trails through the woods. Judging from the quantity of people I encounter on my excursions, I am not alone in my passion for the great outdoors. It’s one of the few remaining places in America where people actually openly smile and say hello to one another. I suppose we are all in a better mood when carefree and breathing fresh air. 

Radio stations are always searching for ways to project fun, tap into good feelings and show support for public institutions. By appointing one of your on-air personalities as your “outdoors person” — or hiring a freelancer — you can capture this feel-good attitude. And yes, there’s even a way to generate revenue by doing so.

A clever name or title for this al-fresco role will help you to build affection for the person presenting information on-air, online and via your social platforms. You are creating a subject matter expert — an influencer, in today’s parlance — who has the street cred to guide your audience into the great outdoors. 

No doubt, part of the appeal of communing with nature is that many outside activities are either inexpensive or even free. It’s important to communicate the financial facts and other details when talking about park entry fees, activities and events. 

Here’s an example of how this could play out on your station and then across your brand’s platforms: 

  1. On-air pre-recorded piece: “Hey, it’s Smokey O, the Outdoors Guy. During this amazing spell of mild winter weather, have you considered hiking in the nearby George Washington National Forest? Parts of the forest are less than two hours from DC. One trail I particularly recommend is the Woodstock Tower Trail, a moderate 45-minute gradual climb. When you get to the top, you can climb the ranger tower where you can see for miles over the Shenandoah Valley. Entrance to the park is free. Get more details about how to plan your day at [station’s website], Facebook page or see pics at #SmokeyO.” 
  2. Tag: “Smokey O, the Outdoors Guy, is brought to you by Smoot’s Outfitters, where all your climbing gear is now 20% off.” 
  3. On Instagram, you’d post pics of the hike. 
  4. Your host, Smokey O, could do a weekly five-minute podcast about his forays. 
  5. Some of these clips could be recorded while Smoky O is actually hiking, a great way to inspire listeners to get up and go.
Ozarks Public Radio capitalized on June as Great Outdoors month at www.ksmu.org, branching out from its regular coverage of Missouri news and politics.

After you’ve established your Outdoors Person as an authentic, reliable personality and he or she has gained a following, you’re really ready to run. They can begin making appearances at nonprofit events and activities to strengthen your station’s community relations, then also serve as a personality doing live cut-ins from retail establishments and commercial exhibitions related to anything outdoors.

FINDING YOUR SMOKEY O

I’ve left the most challenging part of this plan for last. You’re likely wondering how in the world you are going to find the right person for this role. 

Aside from the normal job sites, like LinkedIn and Indeed, and getting recommendations from locals connected to the outdoor scene, have some fun! 

Run a contest and do “tryouts” for a month. You could feature contestants on your morning show, have them guest-post photos on your Instagram, and then let your audience vote. 

You could also check to see if there are any local influencers with an active lifestyle who are already big on YouTube or Instagram. Likely, they’d love to reach a new audience via radio and your social channels. 

Sowegalive.com features its own “The Great Outdoors Radio Show” and a podcast for Georgia outdoor enthusiasts.

Remember that this concept is not limited to hiking. Depending on your location, you can cover fishing, hunting, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, sailing… virtually any outside activity that your audience enjoys in your area. 

More than 150 years ago, Massachusetts native Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, “What is Nature unless there is an eventful human life passing within her?” Encourage your listeners to experience the world outside, and who knows what they may discover.

Mark Lapidus is a multi-platform media, content and marketing executive and longtime Radio World contributor. Email mark.lapidus1@gmail.com.

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