A Chill Is in the Air - Radio World

A Chill Is in the Air

Make the most of the coming ice with these wintry ideas
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Alert the media: Winter is coming!

Yes, my dear friends, for those of us who broadcast to an area with four seasons per year, our listeners are on the verge of complaining about the cold, snow, sleet and darkness. I suppose it is a simple part of the human condition to act shocked when a new season changes our environment.

Click to Enlarge However, while even the squirrels have been preparing for the inevitable freezing temperatures, many of us will wait until it’s too late to have the right programming, promotions and activities scheduled to ski smoothly from December to spring. Consider this a last call to finalize your calendars and make the most of the coming ice.

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“FALL BACK” TO WEATHER REPORTS

I am always amazed at how few stations increase their quantity of local weather reports and weather-related information per hour in the late fall and winter. News/talk stations are the exception, but too many stations in other formats do not rebuild their clocks or even discuss with DJs or hosts just how often they should be focusing on current and future weather conditions.

In focus groups, I’ve seen time and again how much listeners appreciate advice about home issues, such as prevention of freezing pipes and reminders to keep pets indoors; alerts on transportation/travel issues; tips on handling icy driving and emergencies; and prompt reports on delays and closings.

Do you have a well-produced “breaking weather” bumper that is used sparingly but consistently when an emergency occurs? Once you’ve got your act together, consider holding an air staff meeting (include those who voice-track from out of town) to make your direction clear. Leaving this up to the whim of air talent will provide your audience with uneven results, at best.

PLAN YOUR SERVICE

Winter is the ideal time to do good in your local community, but it won’t happen if you don’t plan it right now.

Around the holidays it doesn’t take much encouragement to get listeners to donate food, jackets, gloves, presents and even cash. The more you focus the effort on one item at a time, like canned food, the better the collection will perform. It’s also nice to have an achievable goal such as filling up a moving truck so that listeners feel successful and get a sense of closure.

I also love partnering with local charities because they bring expertise, manpower and, most important, an altruistic perspective to the endeavor. Ideally you would’ve started planning to pull in sponsors a month or two ago, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done when winter is close at hand. Sponsors can make excellent staging or collection centers and often get their own employees involved in the effort.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT

What’s on tap for New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and St. Paddy’s? While it might seem that you don’t have enough staff to pull off these activities, the reality is that all you really have to do is find a fun event happening in your town and get behind it promotionally.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have your own station or cluster engineer, be sure to ask him how you can help prepare your facility for winter. It’s tough for a small department to make certain that your building has up-to-date emergency supplies like fresh water and enough food for a few days.

The cool thing about being prepared for winter is that, once you’re ready, you can, as my kids say, truly be “chill.”

The author is president of Lapidus Media. Contact him atmarklapidus@verizon.net.

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