Who remembers the short-lived 1960s TV show, “Time Tunnel”? How about H.G. Wells’ groundbreaking “The Time Machine”? Or the romantic novel “The Time Traveler’s Wife”?
With millions of audio clips, The WayBack Machine takes listeners back through time. (Read license requirements prior to on-air use.)
What does our medium have in common with all of these time-centric tales? Radio has the unique ability to take the listener to any time or place through the avenue of imagination.
It’s an awesome capability, and I urge you to consider how you can utilize the past, the present and the future to stimulate interest and excitement about your format generally and your station specifically.
The jukebox music station is an unsustainable dead end. I have Spotify, Pandora and more than 1,000 songs on my phone, and I am not alone. Even talk and news stations that tend to stick to one time zone can benefit from a little time travel. Here’s how.
Let’s start with the future. Oh sure, there’s tomorrow’s weather — that’s vital to everyone. But there are upcoming local events that we rarely even mention on-air. Along with sporting events and concerts, there are movie premieres in theatres and on streaming services. There are upcoming holidays that require pre-planning for proper participation. Or tell me how I can make money on the stock market tomorrow, and even if I never make a move, for a few minutes, I will at least dream of what I’m going to do with that all money.
People enjoy hearing about the future because it holds the promise of new possibilities or the answers to our most soul-searching questions. Whether it’s social scientists predicting new technology trends, physicists debating the “Big Crunch” that will end the universe or religious folks anticipating the “End of Days,” talk of the future is always exciting.
The past portrayed on radio makes people nostalgic; it’s often bittersweet yet always emotionally vibrant.
Play me a sound bite from a major news event of the day, and in 10 seconds, you can take me back 10 years. Interview people who were eyewitnesses to local or national events, and I am captivated by their first-hand tales. You’ll not only connect me with my younger self, you will also make me analyze how I feel about that specific memory today.
Offer me a retrospective of a person, a place or even a thing during a certain era and I travel there with you. Remind me of the good times, but don’t be afraid to give me sound from bitter times as well, because they make me part of something larger than myself.
Exhibiting the present on radio has become more challenging than ever, mainly because of overtasked voice-tracking DJs, who may be on two or three stations daily and are struggling just to introduce songs and make each hour time out properly.
However, living in the present means actually telling me what’s going on in my community in as close to real-time as possible.
The present brings me local events in progress; developing news and crime stories; the beauty of a sunrise or sunset in action; the might of a storm blowing trees down in my neighborhood; a ninth-inning baseball game going into overtime; an animal loose from the zoo sighted on the run; an election in progress; or a kid at a nearby high school football game who just scored his third touchdown of the night. Ironically, finding this information is easier than ever thanks to social media and incoming text messages to your station. Verify, or qualify in some way; but do get the information out.
The concept of time travel is just one of the many ways to help you add some vibrancy to your broadcasts.
That mobile phone in your pocket can do a lot more than just take pictures. Go get some great sound from yesterday, today and tomorrow. Take your listeners out of their cars and into your time machine!
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